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SSDs in the Cloud: AWS vs. Google Compute Platform

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

Both Amazon and Google introduced new SSD-based cloud storage volumes this week. Amazon's addition to its Elastic Block Store (EBS) platform is the General Purpose volume aimed at small to medium sized businesses (SMBs), while the Google Cloud Platform is expanding with a high-intensity SSD Persistent Disk option. Read: Google Compute Engine vs. AWS, Rackspace & Azure

New ways to utilize SSD technology are always welcome. The question is how do the new volumes stack up?

Google and Amazon have approached IOPS in slightly different ways. Google provides a strictly linear approach to performance. You can get a maximum of 30 IOPS/GB and IOPS performance will scale linearly from there. SSD persistent disks can be striped to further simplify your setup.

AWS General Purpose volumes aim a little lower in terms of IOPS/GB, although this makes sense seeing as the volumes target SMBs. Amazon has taken a burst-oriented approach to IOPS performance. "The IOPS load generated by a typical relational database turns out to be very spiky. Database load and table scan operations require a burst of throughput; other operations are best served by a consistent expectation of low latency," according to Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for AWS.

To address this, General Purpose volumes use a "slow drip" method of storing accumulated IOPS, called the Token Bucket. The Token Bucket can store up to 5.4 million IOPS, provide up to 3000 IOPS per second and burst for up to 30 minutes at a time. IOPS are added to the store at a rate of 3 IOPS per second.

While Google's SSD volume may provide a wide range of applications, AWS's General Purpose volumes may be more suited to more specific tasks, such as boot operations.

So how does this translate into pricing?

AWS has offered a high performance SSD volume as part of EBS since 2012 called Provisioned IOPS. The persistent storage option charges a baseline storage cost of $0.125 per GB per month, as well as an IOPS charge of $0.10 per IOPS per month. Google's new SSD volumes take a flat-rate approach, charging $0.325 per GB with no need to worry about additional IOPS charges.

Amazon's General Purpose volume announcement came just one day later and they clearly took the hint. EBS General Purpose volumes charge a flat rate between $0.10 and $0.19 per GB per month depending on region.

In the end, the two new SSD cloud storage volumes are significantly different from one another. The different ways of providing IOPS may be the deciding factor for most operations; do you require constant, intense read/write capabilities, or will your applications only need bursts of performance?

AWS General Purpose volumes are available now. Google Compute Platform's persistent SSD volumes are currently in limited preview, which you can sign up for here.